Thursday, September 13, 2007

Top British Think Tank: Stop Appeasing Islamists!

With traditional British understatement, Strategic Survey 2007, a publication of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Britain's top foreign policy think-tank, responds to the growth of Al Qaeda after 9/11. Former MI6 civil servant Dr. John Chipman's report finally begins to admit that Western leaders made a mistake by humoring outrageous Islamist "grievances" (perhaps blinded by oil money from Islamist regimes like Saudi Arabia) rather than unite with secularists to decisively crush aspirations for Islamic supremacy over non-believers:
Islamist Terrorism

There is increasing evidence, Strategic Survey argues, that ‘core’ al-Qaeda is proving adaptable and resilient, and has retained the ability to plan and coordinate large-scale attacks in the Western world. Regional jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb have sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda and have begun to show ambitions beyond parochial concerns in support of al-Qaeda’s global objectives. Plots that have come to light in Europe and elsewhere point to a growing trend of Islamic radicalisation.

The long-term challenge is to confront the extremist ideology which gives rise to terrorism and which al-Qaeda has shown great skill and ingenuity in propagating. That challenge is of a different kind in different parts of the world and needs to be met in specific contexts. Overall, what is referred to as the ‘single narrative’, that sees Muslims as victims of non-Muslim aggression, needs to be addressed, both in the Islamic world and elsewhere. In the Islamic world, governments with de-radicalisation programmes tend not to contest the propositions of the single narrative but rather to encourage individuals to contemplate non-violent responses to perceived injustices affecting their co-religionists. Over time, that approach may not be sufficient, and there will be a need to build political cultures that encourage aspirations for the fruits of modernity and success, something best done by leaders able to establish their political legitimacy.

Western governments tend to meet the Muslim ‘single narrative’ by way of rebuttal, arguing against its basis in fact. But this too is an approach with limited effects. While there is a consensus among all European elites that the war on terror cannot be fought by military means alone, there is a less overt acceptance that defending the largely liberal and secular nature of the ‘public space’ in Europe will require a more assertive application of the ‘political science’ of that liberal-secular tradition. That means looking again at issues as complex as the relative balance between individual and community rights and between secular and religious visions of social organisation. On this basis, it may become possible to find more fluid ways to achieve the effective integration of Muslim minorities into European societies and obtain the national cohesion necessary to meet the wide range of security challenges the modern world poses.